“The Carpet Crawlers”, also sometimes listed as “Carpet Crawl”, “The Carpet Crawl” or “Carpet Crawlers”, is a song originally from the 1974 Genesis concept album The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway. The song was re-recorded in 1999 with the name “The Carpet Crawlers 1999”.
In this portion of The Lamb story, the main character Rael finds himself in a red carpeted corridor, filled with kneeling people that are slowly crawling towards a wooden door at the end of the hall. Rael dashes by them towards the door and goes through it. Behind the door is a table with a candlelit feast on it, and behind that, a spiral staircase that leads upwards out of sight.
Though credited to the whole band, Peter Gabriel wrote most of the song, both music and lyrics. This was unlike the rest of the album, where most of the music was written by the other members with Gabriel focusing on lyrics.
It was Genesis’ last single to feature lead vocalist Peter Gabriel for 25 years. The 1999 rerecorded version also featured Peter Gabriel’s singing making it his last appearance on a Genesis record to date, as well as the last studio recorded song by any iteration of Genesis.
“The Carpet Crawlers” reappears on the 1976 Genesis: In Concert with Bill Bruford on drums, and on Seconds Out, Genesis’s 1977 live album, with Chester Thompson on drums. It was also played on subsequent tours in 1980, 1981, 1983, 1984, 1992, 2007, and the Six of the Best reunion concert with Peter Gabriel. It was also performed once during the 1992 tour. A re-recorded version, called “The Carpet Crawlers 1999”, was released on the compilation album Turn It On Again: The Hits; this is the last recording to date by the 5-man line-up of Peter Gabriel, Steve Hackett, Tony Banks, Phil Collins and Mike Rutherford, and is also the last studio recording by any configuration of Genesis to date. On “Carpet Crawlers 1999”, Gabriel and Collins share the role of lead vocals, ultimately harmonising toward the end of the song. Collins contributes percussion programming as well, under a more contemporary drum and bass influence. “The Carpet Crawlers 1999” is also notable for omitting the song’s final verse, “The porcelain mannequin with shattered skin . . .”.
The B-sides of the 1999 single were “Turn It On Again” and “Follow You Follow Me”. The song is also included as the final track of the 2007 live album Live Over Europe 2007 and on the live DVD When in Rome 2007.
On the 1974 studio version, Peter Gabriel sang an introductory verse beginning with “There is lambs’ wool under my naked feet…”, while from 1976 onwards Phil Collins omitted the introduction, and started the song with “The crawlers cover the floor…”. This later live version omitting the introductory verse is simply referred to as “The Carpet Crawl”, as it is listed on Seconds Out. The song as sung by Phil was a notable fixture through the 1981/1982 tours, and was played as the final encore for each date of the 2007 Turn It On Again Tour.
The song was covered by the French band Matis on their album “Encore” released in 2006.
A version was also recorded by John Ford (ex-Strawbs) for a tribute album.
Another version was covered by the jazz band Fragile on their 2007 cover album smile and by Human Drama on their 1993 ‘Pin Ups’ release.
Leon Alvarado covered the song in his album “Leon Plays Genesis and Other Original Stuff” released in 2008.
Nick D’Virgilio, the drummer on 1997 Calling All Stations Album and Mark Hornsby covered the song as part of their Rewiring Genesis: A Tribute To The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway Project in 2008.
It was covered by Mark Kozelek on his 2013 covers album Like Rats.
This song was recorded for Steve Hackett’s album Genesis Revisited II selection, together with former Genesis-singer Ray Wilson.
Tony Banks – ARP Pro-Soloist & RMI Electra piano (1974), keyboards and additional programming (1999)
Phil Collins – drums, percussion, backing vocals (1974), co-lead vocals and programmed drums (1999)
Peter Gabriel – lead vocals and flute (1974), co-lead vocals and additional programming (1999)
Steve Hackett – electric guitar
Mike Rutherford – 12-string guitar, bass guitar, bass pedals